We are in Black History month 2021 and it has taken me 11 days to decide should I write a blog? What will I say? Should Black history be recognised for one month? And the list goes on… But I could not let the month past without saying anything. So here it is ……….the blog.
I am sure that I have said this before but I will say it again…whilst I believe black heritage should always be celebrated rather than allocated to one month of the year, it is a great opportunity to focus upon great achievements and history which is still until this day at times often overlooked, disregarded and forgotten about.
When we speak of diversity and inclusion we (speaking generally here) need to really understand what it means. For example, this may mean being able to attend work in your cultural attire, wearing an afro, locs, head wrap, speaking in your native dialect at times etc without feeling that you will be judged/looked down upon, or face micro aggression.
My dialect is Jamaican patios which some describe as a form of broken English and occasionally it slips out and I have an ‘oh dear’ moment which is synchronized with slight embarrassment that comes over me. But as I sit here writing I ask myself why? I am not swearing or using offensive language. I am of Jamaican heritage that’s me and that’s my culture, can’t take that away from me. It is who I am.
Sometimes black people have to wear a mask in the workplace and not bring their authentic self. Why ? to be accepted, to fit in, to be promoted and so forth. This doesn’t demonstrate inclusion, masking your true self means that you are still not accepted and included unless you conform to what is considered the ‘norm’.
This blog is not just about me, no, it is about the lived experience of ‘others’, the ‘others’ who have become so weary, the ‘others’ who want to be accepted, the ‘others’ that want to be seen, the others who want to be heard, the ‘others’ who don’t want to rock the boat, the ‘others’ that don’t want to have to do twice as much in the workplace to receive recognition, the ‘others’ who are burnt out because they do so much to compensate, the ‘others’ who are sick and tired of being sick and tired, the ‘others’ who are fearful and the ‘others’ that have a lot to say but do not have the platform or voice to do so.
So here I am writing this on behalf of the ‘others.’
You might be one of the ‘others’ reading this blog, you might be one who has seen the struggles or you might be one that has caused the struggles. Whichever category you fall into this blog is for you.
To the ‘others’ – I have seen you, I have listened and I heard you. Persevere.
One of the hardest things to do is change someone’s mindset but I am a strong believer that educating one is key. It may take time but through persistence, innovation, consistency and allyship it can be achieved.
Joseph Bologne Chevalier Saint Georges (b. 1745, d,1799) the composer was born in Guadeloupe and made his debut as a violinist and composer.
Here is a link to Violin Concertos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmiuh_OL2Zg which I think is exquisite.
Katherine Johnson an African American women who was not only a mathematical genius but was instrumental in NASA’s Mercury program (1961-1963).
In 1961, Katherine calculated the path for Freedom 7, the spacecraft that placed the first U.S. astronaut in space.
The 2016 movie called ‘Hidden figures’ is based upon the true story of the three female African–American (including Katherine) whom played a vital role in John Glenn (the astronaut) launching into orbit despite the discrimination they faced within the workplace.
Madam C.J. Walker – 1867-1919
Madam C.J. Walker born Sarah Breedlove was an African American entrepreneur who invented a line of best selling hair products. She became the first female self-made millionaire in the American Guinness book of record.
In 2020 Netflix released a series entitled ‘Self-made’ which was inspired by the life of Madam C.J. Walker, definitely one to watch.
I am looking forward to attending a range of events some can be found below.
Black History Season: Black London; History, Art and Culture
St Paul’s/Bank Black History Walk 31st October 2021
Black London: History, Art and Culture: with Avril 28th October 2021 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/black-london-history-art-and-culture-with-avril-tickets-168451734673?aff=ebdssbdestsearch
Black London: History, Art & Culture with by Avril Nanton and Jody Burton 3rd November 2021 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/black-london-history-art-culture-with-by-avril-nanton-and-jody-burton-tickets-169768322623?aff=ebdssbdestsearch&keep_tld=1
My mini book list:
Small Island (2004) by Andrea Levy
With hope in their eyes (1998) by Vivienne Francis
Happy Sexy Millionaire (2021) Steve Bartlett
The Value in the Valley (1995) by Iyanla Vanzant
Mary Seacole (2005) by Jane Robinson
Becoming (2018) by Michelle Obama
I hope Black History Month 2021 will be insightful and impactful for all.
Jennifer Brown Chartered MCIPD BPsS
Chair of Library Services Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee